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Swades and importance of sticking to your values during bad times

Bad times are the moments when our faith is questioned. There might be great temptations to abandon our personal values. But sticking to them bring unexpected benefits.

Anmol Mohan

Swades is a movie about personal growth. How a person who believed that achievements give meaning to life comes to realize that the essential things of life were there with him all along. Some might say those things are relationships. Others might say it is about love. But the reason most highlighted by the movie is Values.

The discussion about Values is woven throughout the movie. Most conversations about code of conduct that people should follow. The realization of Mohan that he did a terrible thing by not taking care of his nanny when he was under no obligation to do so. The discussion of Indian vs. American values during the Dusshera celebration.

But the valuable moment that sticks with you is not a discussion at all. It is the moment when movie maker does not present their point of view with words but with actions. It is an allegory of how the moments that test our values do not happen in fairy tales but in our mundane, uneventful, basic, down to the earth daily life. It is the moment when Mohan meets Haridas. And the hero of that moment is not Mohan but Haridas, proving that we are all heroes if we choose to be.


Mohan is a project manager at NASA who has returned to India to take care of his childhood mother figure Kaveri Amma. She asks Mohan to visit Haridas, who has rented land from her but has not paid rent for very long. With that, Mohan begins an arduous journey from his village to Haridas's village, hoping to shed light on his situation and recover rent. (I have purposefully eliminated some details because they are not apropos for this article. Apologies if you don't find this true to the source.)

The visit

When Mohan visits Haridas' place, he immediately takes note of his poverty. He is astounded at the conditions in which Haridas and his family live. Nevertheless, Mohan agrees to go inside the cottage at Haridas' invitation as he understands that it will be an uncomfortable conversation.

Mohan is there on a mission that he quickly wants to finish. He is reluctant when Haridas asks him to rest first since he has had a long journey. He is highly surprised when Haridas asks his wife to cook something for the guests. Given the situation, He did not anticipate a welcome or hospitality beyond standard meet & greet.

Once Mohan finishes his very basic dinner, Haridas opens up about his situation. Haridas tells Mohan that he changed his occupation from weaver to farmer. Unfortunately, this did not sit well with the community, and they refused to support him. As a result, he lost all his crops and could not pay anything.

Mohan is appalled at the social structures of Haridas' community. He is visibly sad about the rules which are resulting in oppression. After understanding the situation, he goes to sleep. He says goodbye and leaves the following day after offering some money to Haridas.


There are several points to note about Haridas during this whole episode.

  • He did not react defensively at the visit. Many people would try to deflect the situation and make up some excuse. Some might even be hostile, anticipating a danger to their family.

Indeed, Mohan was not aggressive in any way. But still, it is an unfamiliar situation for Haridas. Not many urban, groomed men are roaming around in that area recovering rent. So his first reaction could have been fear, and he would have reacted negatively to the visit.

Yet, he kept his cool. He showed the same respect to Mohan that he would have demonstrated to Kaveri Amma. The respect originating from the fact that they helped him with the land. And even though it did not yield the results he was expecting, he did not lose that respect.

  • He showed great care for his guests. Haridas is running out of food. In these times, his first reaction could have been to hoard as much as possible. To save whatever little he has left.

But what he did was the opposite. He openly shared the food with his guests, prioritizing their immediate needs over his and his family's. It may sound like a trivial thing to share bread with your guests. But under those circumstances, it is almost like sharing a body part. Only a deep belief in personal values can make that happen.

  • He opened up honestly and explained the situation. He could have made false promises just to be done with this uncomfortable situation. He could have given up on his fate. But he didn't.

He explained the situation in detail. He had a belief that he could resolve the crisis through dialogue. Of course, he was not expecting anything, and he had no idea how the situation would turn out. But he had faith that no matter how bad these times were, he could get over it by sticking to his fundamental human values.


Mohan gave Haridas some money in the end. It was a movie for sure. It may or may not turn out like that in real life. But there is no denying that help can come from anywhere and in any form.

We can get over many situations alone, but we cannot get over every situation life throws at us. So there will always be a need to attract help. There will always be a need to play well with others and achieve something we cannot achieve alone. That is why there is a need to cultivate values when you have time.

Gratefulness, Equality, and Hope; were the tools Haridas used to attract help and turn the tide of his agonizing life. His values led him to act virtuously during bad times and get out of them stronger.

What are your tools?

Movie Analysis

Anmol Mohan

I am just trying to make sense of this world. I am interested in the hardest puzzles like Consciousness, Humanity and Multiverse. Sharing my honest learning during this journey.